LCC warns Transport for London that 'early start' is dangerous to cycling at large junctions

The London Cycling Campaign has written to Transport for London warning it not to replicate the 'early start' facility that has been installed at the eastbound entrance to Bow roundabout at similar large junctions.

Read our letter here

At present, TfL is ignoring the views of local cyclists and ourselves with plans to install the same facility on the westbound side of the roundabout and at other unsuitable sites in the capital.

Our letter to TfL points out that 'early start' facilities would only be able to create enough time for cyclists to get out of the path of left-turning vehicles at small junctions.

The problems of the design are:

  • Significant left-hook risk to cyclists
  • Poor understanding by all road users
  • No crossing facilities of any kind for walkers
  • Cyclists have long red phase, compared with motorists

Despite the new layout at Bow, it's still possible for cyclists to be put in the same circumstances that caused the death of Brian Dorling last year: cycling across the exit of the roundabout with motor traffic turning across their path.

We warned TfL that its chosen system presents cyclists with significant risk and that better systems exist to eliminate that risk.

We've noted considerable slack in the signal timing at Bow, which is sufficient to allow a completely separate cycle phase, a solution that would also benefit pedestrians (who already often use this ‘dead time’ to cross - see below). 

The 'early start' system at Bow is not helped by the widespread confusion among drivers and cyclists as to how it should work.

The changes at Bow roundabout came about after campaigning from LCC in the wake of two deaths in three weeks in 2011.


  • By darditti at 3:43pm 14 September 2012
Great to see LCC taking a clear, firm line on this. TfL have constantly ignored expert advice recommending tested, quality solutions here in favour of trying their own half-baked inventions. We don't want to see more avoidable deaths at this and similar junctions. David Arditti Co-ordinator, Brent Cyclists

I use this junction every day. The new lights have not eliminated the danger (nearly got clipped by a motorbike yesterday, in fact), and have made it worse because of the confusion about the lights and the difficulty in reaching the advanced stop box because the cycle lane is full of buses.

One of the problems with the cycle lights at the Bow roundabout is DfT's obdurate refusal to consider qualified red lights - that is allowing anything but a solid red light to indicate stop. When the lights for cyclists change from red other traffic often mistakenly assumes that it is for them. This confusion would be eliminated if the red stop light for cyclists showed an image of a bicycle just as the green light does.

Yes. The DfT's position seems to be a stumbling block to create the sort of compromises that would really help. As suitible compromises are rulled out by the DfT, cyclists and pedestrians are loosing with nothing. I suspect, unitl cars and lorries loose, DfT wont budge and car will remain king.

  • By twiglet at 9:31pm 1 October 2012

surely Bow is a candidate for an elevated cycle route attached to the side of the flyover?

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